Category Archives: Coastal Plain

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Margaret Maron. The Buzzard Table. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2012.

It’s hard to believe that the war on terror has come to Colleton County, but that’s what PAT–Patriots Against Torture–thinks.  Its members believe that the county airport is being used  to fly terrorism suspects out of this country to secret prisons in Europe where they will be tortured.  As this novel opens, Jeremy Harper, a local high school boy in the group who trespassed at the airport, appears in Deborah Knott’s court to answer the charges against him.  Because Jeremy does not have a record, he is given community service time.  He will use his talents as a photographer to document the stories of local veterans.  His activities will be directed by a local minister and Anne Harald, a noted photojournalist who is in town to attend to the needs of her dying mother, local grande dame Mrs. Lattimore.

Anne Harald is the mother of NYPD detective Sigrid Harald, who has also come to Colleton County to be with Mrs. Lattimore.  Even though Mrs. Lattimore is fading fast, she insists that the family entertain a long-lost nephew who is in the area doing research on buzzards.  Against her will, Deborah is roped in to dining with the Lattimore clan.  Deborah has already met the nephew and has been put off by his bad manners and excessive desire for privacy.  Later, when an attractive realtor is murdered and her body dumped near the birder’s research site, Deborah is suspicious, as is Sigrid.

But this is a case for the county sheriff, and Deborah’s husband, sheriff’s deputy Dwight Bryant, suspects that a jealous husband or spurned lover committed the crime.  The murder of a stranger at a local motel sets both Dwight and the reader to ponder whether the two murders are connected.  While Dwight works on the cases, Deborah keeps the home fires burning, cementing her relationship with her stepson Cal.  As the novel ends they are more a family, even as Deborah realizes that there are things about Dwight’s past that she does not–and may never–know.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Maron, Margaret, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Barbara Arntsen. High on the Hog: A Peri Mason Mystery. United States: CreateSpace, 2012.

Reporter Periwinkle “Peri” Mason is looking forward to a relaxing Carolina fall. Earlier in the year she narrowly avoided becoming a victim while unexpectedly solving a slew of murders on Myrtle Beach, and in her opinion, once was enough. Unfortunately, the universe has other plans for the tough journalist from fictional Lofton, North Carolina.

While walking along the Neuse River in Wayne County near Lofton, Peri’s spirited Jack Russell terrier discovers something truly grisly– a body floating in the shallows. The corpse is that of Curtis Ganner, who was missing for several days. Mysteriously, his truck was found miles upriver, making murder the likely cause of his demise. Curtis worked for the McKeel Processing Plant, which is one of the largest pork producers in eastern North Carolina. The plant’s human fatality rate begins to rise when another missing employee is also found murdered. When a third victim’s head is found among some porcine remains, Peri can’t help herself– she starts investigating.

As she digs into the soft underbelly of the pork industry the intrepid reporter finds not only murder, but industrial espionage. Soon she is knee-deep in pig excrement (literally and figuratively), and more in danger than ever. Will Peri make it out alive this time?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Arnsten, Barbara, Coastal Plain, Duplin, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller, Wayne

Stephanie McCoy. Sweet as Cane. Berkeley, CA: Pen & Mouse Books, 2012.

Marrow is a small, fictional town in North Carolina, somewhere between the Triangle and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1957, it still clings to many of the thoughts and traditions that have been at its core for the last century. This includes the practice of photographing deceased loved ones as if they were still among the living– babies in particular. No one is more skilled in this morbid photography than Cane Walker, the daughter of the town’s (surprisingly female) mortician.

At a healthy twenty-three years, one would expect Cane to be married with a family of her own. But a tragic accident during her birth left her with a scarred and disfigured face. Neither life nor the townsfolk have been kind to Cane, who finds her raison d’etre behind the safe, concealing disguise of a camera lens. She has a gift for composing a photograph so good that it brings a dead child back to life, at least for a time. While the town inhabitants ridicule her face, they cannot deny her talent– every mother who loses a child wants a photograph from the mysterious Miss Walker. Unfortunately, Cane has a bad habit of stealing small keepsakes from the little bodies before they go next-door to her mother, Darleen, for burial. A pin here, a letter there– Cane herself isn’t sure why she steals, only that it is part of her process. But Cane’s life is about to change, and although they don’t realize it, the community around her will also change as a result.

Told through the eyes of different residents in the small town, from rich to poor and black to white, Sweet as Cane follows the little tragedies of daily life in a more unforgiving time.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Historical, McCoy, Stephanie, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Sheila Turnage. Three Times Lucky. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012.

Moses “Mo” LoBeau is no stranger to mysteries. Found as an infant floating down the Tar River on some debris during a powerful hurricane, the rising sixth grader’s very existence is something of an oddity around Tupelo Landing. Which is not to say that she is shunned by the (fictional) eastern North Carolina town; on the contrary, Mo is a star. Helping her guardians, Colonel LoBeau (who found and named her) and Miss Lana, run the local cafe (which serves such specials as peanut butter and banana on Wonder Bread and Mountain Dew as the drink du jour), Mo is beloved by all of the hotspot’s customers. Although she would love to know who her “Upstream Mother” is, and she tries to find her by sending letters in bottles along nearby tributaries, Mo is content. But then Joe Starr, a lawman with too many questions about the Colonel, shows up, and  Miss Lana goes missing.  The town is shocked when Mr. Jesse is found murdered and Mo’s best friend, Dale Earnhardt III, was the last to see him alive. With all this trouble so close to home, Mo steps up as pint-sized detective to crack the multiple cases. In doing so, she preserves  the only family she has ever known and returns her close-knit village to normalcy.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coastal Plain, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Turnage, Sheila

Jerry Eden. Ashley Jordan’s Secret. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006.

It’s a beautiful day at the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park just outside of Goldsboro, North Carolina. But the day turns bleak when a couple celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary with a trip to the park discovers the body of a young girl. Wayne County law enforcement, headed by the handsome Officer Rico Acosta, quickly determines that foul play was involved. At the same time, powerful State Senator Zachary Jordan contacts Rico to inform him that his teenage daughter, Ashley, is missing. What Rico fears soon proves to be true: Ashley Jordan and the murdered girl found at the Neuse River are one and the same.

Slade Lindsey is just passing through Wayne County on his motorcycle, so when he’s arrested for murder, he’s very surprised. He agrees to cooperate with Rico, whom he trusts, but it soon becomes clear that someone wants Slade to take the fall for Ashley’s murder. It doesn’t help that Slade is an outsider to the community, and looks a little rough around the edges. What follows is a complicated court case that eventually involves highly skilled professionals from New York City, as well as one of the best defense attorneys in the United States. As the trial progresses, it becomes clear to all that Ashley Jordan’s death was neither a crime of passion nor opportunity. The young woman knew something valuable, and it got her killed. Will this crack team of law enforcement professionals discover who killed Ashley Jordan? More importantly, will they be able to prove Slade’s innocence and save him from certain death?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Coastal Plain, Eden, Jerry, Mystery, Wayne

Tim Owens. The Search Committee. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2012.

In this novel Tim Owens presents an affectionate portrait of the people and places of eastern North Carolina.  When a small North Carolina Presbyterian church east of  I-95 needs a new pastor, the church does what churches do: they appoint a search committee to screen applications and visit the best candidates.  The seven parishioners on the committee represent all types of people in the church: they are young and old, long-time locals and newcomers, single, married, and widowed.  Most Sundays between the spring and early fall they pack themselves into the church’s Econoline van and drive around the state visiting preachers who are looking to move to a new church.

Much of the story is revealed through the musings of a young married man, Travis Booth.  Through him readers ponder how difficult it is for seven strangers to slip into the Sunday service of a small church without being noticed, what hymn selection might indicate about the preacher’s liturgical style, and whether pew cushions are worth the expense.  While most chapters begin with a brief selection from a Presbyterian catechism or confessional document and the book includes sermon excerpts that will make some regular church goers smile, the novel is not so much about the church as it is about the people on the search committee.  Each person carries a long-term sorrow or is facing a problem that is revealed as the novel unfolds.  Readers will root for these nice people to find grace and healing as much as they wait to see if the search for a minister will be successful.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Owens, Tim, Religious/Inspirational

Sandra Robbins. Shattered Identity. New York: Love Inspired Books, 2012.

Scott Michaels is a veteran with PTSD.  His faith is helping him heal, and as this novel opens he is settling in to his post-military life as a sheriff’s deputy on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.  Scott has kin on Ocracoke; uniting with them has given him a family he never knew he had.  After his mother died, her sister kidnapped Scott, so he grew up never knowing his father or his half sisters who now give him love and a feeling of belonging denied to him as a child.  He is both grateful and angry.  With these issues on his plate, Scott knows he should stay away from Lisa Wade, the attractive young woman who is the dispatcher at the sheriff’s office.

Lisa seems to have a more settled life and a secure place in the tight-knit island community.  But Lisa’s backstory is just as troubled as Scott’s.  Lisa’s father died when she was young, and her mother committed suicide a short time later.  With little love or guidance from her cold grandmother, Lisa nonetheless grew into a kind and sensible young woman. She did, however, make a mistake when she fell for the easy charms of Calvin Jamison, a local lady’s man and corrupt cop. When Lisa learned about Calvin’s illegal activities, she turned in him.  Calvin, now in prison, blames Lisa for his imprisonment.  When Lisa is attacked and her house ransacked, everyone assumes that Calvin is taking his revenge.  Scott is one of the deputies assigned to protect Lisa.  Against their wills, Scott and Lisa are drawn to each other as the violence against Lisa escalates and she discovers disturbing things about her community and her family.  In fits and starts they learn to trust in each other and in God as the novel moves to a dramatic climax.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Hyde, Religious/Inspirational, Robbins, Sandra, Romance/Relationship

Eileen Clymer Schwab. Shadow of a Quarter Moon. New York: New American Library, 2011.

“Jacy Lane, you are nothing more than a foolish quarter moon!” While Jacy is the pride and joy of her father, the wealthy plantation owner Mr. Bradford Lane, she is often the subject of her mother Claudia’s anger. Raised to be a fine southern lady in northeastern North Carolina, Jacy has enjoyed a comfortable existence marred only by her mother’s inexplicable bouts of rage. But her mostly happy life comes to an abrupt halt, first when a cruel landowner foists his ungentlemanly attentions on her, and then when Bradford Lane dies suddenly. When Jacy refuses to submit to the fate her mother Claudia has planned, the woman finally reveals the reason for her ill-treatment of Jacy: Jacy is the illegitimate child of Bradford and his true love, a half-white, half-black house slave. When the young Jacy heard her mother call her a “quarter moon”, she was really saying “quadroon”- a term for a person who is only three-quarters white. Naturally fair-skinned and kept paler with wide-brimmed sun hats, no one, not even Jacy, had guessed her true parentage.

Stunned by this revelation, Jacy begins a transformation. Galvanized by the further discovery that her birth mother and full brother are still enslaved on the plantation, she decides to deliver them, and the handsome horse trainer Rafe, to freedom. It is only when the three are safely away that Jacy realizes her true home is with them, no matter where they are or the color of their skin. Abandoning the relative safety of the plantation, Jacy strikes out to follow her family through the Underground Railroad to the north, true love, and acceptance of her own identity. Along the way she encounters great danger, temporary defeat, and the worst kind of human indecency, but ultimately emerges as a triumphant, strong woman with the ability to look her fears in the eye.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Camden, Coastal Plain, Gates, Historical, Pasquotank, Romance/Relationship, Schwab, Eileen Clymer

Richard Folsom. Indian Wood. [United States: BookSurge?], 2009.

Is it possible that three people were murdered because of something they found on an old reel of microfilm?  That’s what newspaperman Luther Surles wants to find out in this mystery that moves between the Court of Queen Elizabeth I and present day Greenville and Lumberton, North Carolina.

Carl Burden and Luther Surles met when they were covering a Klan rally in Robeson County in 1958. Carl was a cub reporter; Luther had been a newspaperman for a few years.  Luther stayed in journalism, but Carl went to graduate school and eventually became a history professor at East Carolina University.  Carl’s research interest is the Lost Colony and a possible connection between the colonists and the Lumbee Tribe.

Carl’s new graduate student, the lovely Roberta Locklear, is also interested in a Lost Colony-Lumbee connection, and soon both Carl’s research and his love life heat up.  But Roberta has her own history, and Luther begins to suspect that some piece of that ties into Carl’s murder.  This novel moves weaves stories of the wars, exploitation, and double-dealing of earlier centuries with a very twenty-first century story of property development and greed.  As a bonus, the book contains a novel-within-a-novel–Carl’s historical novella on the Lost Colony.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coast, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Dare, Folsom, Richard, Greene, Historical, Mystery, Robeson

Dixie Land. Return to Serenity. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2007.

Maggie and Ross Harrington, the main characters in Land’s previous novel, Serenity, are back in this sequel, Return to Serenity.  Maggie and Ross are now married, and they are raising Maggie’s son, Tyler, as their child even though Tyler’s father is Maggie’s dishonest, drug-abusing ex-fiancé, Michael.  Maggie and Ross are happy–they have become a true family and the network of friends evident in the first novel are present in this one too.  Because friends Caroline and Charlie are willing to mind little Tyler, Maggie and Ross are able to slip away for a romantic vacation in the Caribbean.

That vacation is Maggie and Ross’s last moment of bliss before problems from the past come back for another assault on the couple. Ross’s ex-wife Melanie has cancer, and she asks Ross and Maggie to take in her daughter (who is not Ross’s child).  Melanie’s request opens old wounds, but Melanie is not a threatening or frightening person, as is Tyler’s father, Michael.  Michael will stop at nothing to get Maggie and Tyler back. As in the past, Michael manipulates Maggie’s friends to get information on her, and while he appears to be using the courts to get Tyler, that is just a way to distract Maggie while he puts his true plan in motion.

 

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coastal Plain, Land, Dixie, Suspense/Thriller